The maturity of the Indian Voter collectively has left me stunned for two reasons.
- Vote for Stability: The country was in pain crying for stability and a kick up the backside for the third, fourth and whatever fronts. And the only reason they existed was BJP did not have a Pan-India presence (No presence in AP, TN, WB, KL, and J&K). So what does the Indian Voter do - make the choice clear. No more third and fourth fronts for me.
- Vote for Performance: AP (YSR), Bihar (Nitish), Gujarat (Modi), Orissa (Naveen Patnaik), J&K (Omar Abdullah - although a very short stint), Karnataka (BSY - A short stint again) and Delhi (Sheila Dixit) clear positive votes for performance and UP (Maya) a clear vote against (although UP is too complex to describe in these terms). Did I miss any others?
Despite all the talk about Muslims grouping against BJP, the BJP have no reason to complain unlike Mayawati who is cursing them for ditching her despite her efforts to act as their messiah by arresting Varun Gandhi and detaining him under NSA. You don't go around threatening a community and not expect them to group up against you. This chest-beating might have won the BJP a seat in Pilibhit, but resulted in a rout in UP and a significant loss of Votes around the country. I know several friends who were sitting on the fence who decided to switch to Congress just because of VG. And this time, unlike the past elections, most of my friends did vote and in a close election (several seats that I was monitoring were neck-to-neck and kept switching back and forth), these few voters VG pissed off did matter and probably resulted in atleast 10-15 fewer seats.
For the BJP, it is time to look beyond Advani. The main stream media does not give him his due and that was probably the biggest reason for his not being able to emerge taller than Manmohan. Most people don't realize his contribution in building a party (he did this and not Vajpayee) that he brought so close to being a strong rival to the Congress and the importance of that in a democratic polity. Before the BJP, our best alternatives were Mr. Deve Gowda, Mayawati, Laloo and Co. His voluntary sacrifice of the PM contender post in favour of Vajpayee in 1996 is really admirable. Contribution cannot be measured by the posts you hold which in the India Context is probably directly proportional to the number of times you switch parties. He's toiled hard for a party and it has almost established itself as the rival to the Congress that India desperately needs. But alas, so close yet so far.
The next step for the party involves establishing a presence in the states where BJP has virtually no presence and cleaning up the in-fighting in . Since most of these are bipolar states already, BJP cannot make a decent entry into these states without allies and unfortunately for the BJP, it cannot hope to make any allies without toning down its extreme Hindutva content. Unfortunately for them, when you say Hindutva, people only think of Godhra, Ram Temple, Muthalik/Mangalore, Kandhamal and others.
So the way out is to find a moderate leader - a Sushma Swaraj, a Jaswant Singh or a Arun Jaitley and please not MM Joshi - the only thing I remember about him is his efforts to rewrite History books like that was the biggest priority in HRD ministry and completely stop any tacit spport for the rowdy elements within the BJP, stop all Ram-Talk and condemn/take swift action against any such BJP and non-BJP elements who engage in this.
And maybe in 2014, after the Congress screws us for another five years, there will be a wave in favour of the BJP (and this time across the country). Or maybe, just maybe, the Congress and all other parties will take the warning that the Indian Voter has served on them and start performing. Wishful thinking??? I hope not.